Derrida and Posthumanism (II): The Animality of the Trace

This post is part two of a three part series. Read part one here. Jacques Derrida’s marathon lecture on ‘L’animal que donc je suis’ for the décade (ten-day conference) on ‘L’animal autobiographique’ at Cerisy-la-Salle in July 1997[1] can be seen retrospectively to have marked the ‘official’ entry of his work into posthumanism, within which it […]

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Derrida and Posthumanism (I): From Sign to Trace

If one of the aims of posthumanism is to re-elaborate critically, without falling back on exceptionalist constructions, the nature of what humanity means, from its problematic inception to its uncertain, constant becoming, then Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of what constitutes (the inscription of) a trace is highly relevant. From some of his earliest texts the French […]

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Golding’s Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, and Human and Nonhuman Interconnectedness

William Golding’s novels are famous for their bleak depiction of the human condition in which violence, dark urges, and primordial egotism prevail. The author, however, made it clear in his Nobel Lecture that he is ‘a universal pessimist but a cosmic optimist’,[1] and while his opinion of the human as such might not be a […]

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Microbial Life

The science and philosophy writer Dorion Sagan, son of Lynn Margulis,[1] began his 2011 lecture in the Anthropological Society’s series The Human is More than Human[2] by quoting from Claire Folsome’s entry for ‘Microbes’ in the 1985 book The Biosphere Catalogue. Folsome describes a thought experiment in which an alien drops down through the ceiling and […]

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Hamlet, Shakespeare and Posthumanism

‘… they imitated humanity so abhominably.’ (III.2.34)[1]   The affinity between Shakespeare’s Hamlet and some of the existential questions raised by contemporary posthumanism, despite the four centuries that lie between them, is striking. From the beginning of the play, the question of identity, and of the identity of the human more specifically, is the main […]

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Affect: Psychopower and Eventology

‘Psychopower’ and ‘Eventology’ are two reworked extracts from the succinct genealogy of affect that Bernd Bösel provides in ‘Affect Disposition(ing)’. The article explains how affect is conceptualised by early Western (i.e. Greek) thought as the ‘by-product of being possessed by a god, a demon or another nonhuman’. This ‘demonological’ paradigm of affect involves certain practices of dealing with nonhuman […]

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Genealogy

Genealogies are about ancestors, lineages, progeny and the knowledge they produce. They are historical in the sense that they trace past developments to investigate how ‘things’ have become the way they ‘are’ (or, at least, were at a certain time). In the humanities and social sciences the concept of genealogy is mainly linked to both […]

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Musical Atmospheres

For critical posthumanism, musical atmospheres are a promising field of study. ‘Immersed in sound’, as Frances Dyson argues with reference to the new media of virtual reality, the Internet, and their auditive precursor technologies, ‘the subject loses its self, and, in many ways, loses its sense’ in indeterminate situations that undermine the classical subject-object split […]

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The Posthuman William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs was very much a product of, and his work a commentary on, his time, even if as a cultural Outsider. However, his vision of a dystopian future, his discourse of repetitions, his stochastic materiality, his critiques of the politics of drugs and surveillance, his foregrounding of what we today call queer theory, his […]

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